Is Lecithin Really Bad for You? Six Health Myths About Lecithin Exposed

Lecithin gets an unfair reputation among natural health experts. Lecithin is not a cure-all, but it is certainly non-toxic, and you can include it with confidence in your healthcare routine with good results. In this article, we will debunk six health myths about this natural nutrient.

Lecithin Myth #1: All Lecithin is Made From GMO Inputs

Lecithin is mostly made from plant-based sources like soybean and sunflower oil. It is occasionally manufactured from animal fat.

It’s true that many soybeans are genetically modified for higher yields. But not all soybeans are GMO. About 9 percent of soybeans in the US are conventionally grown, but not genetically modified. About 1 percent of American soybeans are organically grown and non-GMO. Organic lecithin is never GMO.

Lecithin Myth #2. Soy Lecithin Contains Dairy

Lecithin can be made from milk fat, but dairy products are not the usual input for lecithin production. You can trust the label when it says “soy lecithin” that it contains no dairy or animal products that are not clearly identified on the label.

Soy lecithin is not a dairy product.

Lecithin Myth #3. Soy Lecithin can Cause Hormonal Imbalance

There is a chain of reasoning that goes something like this:

Lecithin is usually made from soybeans, and soybeans are a major source of phytoestrogens, so lecithin must contain enough phytoestrogens that it interferes with hormonal balance. This would be particularly harmful for women who have estrogen receptor-positive breast or uterine cancer—except that lecithin does not contain phytoestrogens!

The Ontario Women’s Diet and Health Study even found that breast cancer rates in women who took lecithin supplements were lower, not higher. Lecithin does not change hormonal balance and cannot be used to treat hormone-related diseases.

Lecithin Myth #4. Soy Lecithin can Trigger Breast Cancer

External sources of estrogen could aggravate breast cancer. It is extremely important for women who have a family or personal history of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer not to take estrogen replacement therapy, for instance.

Dietary sources of phytoestrogens are a different matter. There are limits to how much genistein and daidzein (the main phytoestrogens in soybeans) that the human body can absorb every day.

A woman could eat about half an ounce (15 grams) of tofu or whole soybeans a day and absorb the phytoestrogens in them. If they then went ahead and ate a pound (450 grams) of tofu in a single meal, they would absorb the same amount of phytoestrogens as if they ate just half an ounce (15 grams).

Even whole soybeans don’t contain enough absorbable phytoestrogens to trigger breast cancer. Lecithin contains essentially no phytoestrogens at all and is safe for all women.

Lecithin Myth #5. Lecithin in Infant Formula Causes Delays in Development

The makers of baby formulas like Kabrita, Baby Only, and HiPP Dutch Stage 3 add lecithin to keep them from clumping, and so the micronutrients in the product more nearly match the micronutrients in breast milk. Lecithin contains many of the same ingredients as breast milk, including choline, fatty acids, glycerol, glycolipids, triglycerides, phosphoric acid, phospholipids, and phosphatidylcholine. All of these compounds are essential to a baby’s normal development.

Breast-fed infants develop a little more quickly than bottle-fed infants, but there are no delays associated with lecithin made from soy, sunflower oil, egg, or dairy.

Lecithin Myth #6. Soy Lecithin is Harmful to Men

Several studies have found that men who eat regular servings of soybean products such as tofu have lower rates of prostate cancer after the age of 50. This is probably due to the presence of phytoestrogens. Lecithin, however, has negligible or no phytoestrogens, and has no effect on men’s hormonal health.

Lecithin isn’t a vitamin. It isn’t vital for your health, but neither is it harmful to your health. It just provides additional useful nutrients while it keeps your food fresher on the shelf.

For more information on lecithin or for more information about products and ingredients, please contact us to request samples.